I’m renting my house and one of the slate (it looks like slate rather than the white ceramic type stuff) tiles from the floor has come loose, intact, just come loose.

Rather than go through a tedious process of reporting a fix through the letting company, I figured I’d just try and repair it myself. What’s the worst that can happen?

It looks like it was cemented (for lack of a better word) down, to describe it, it has stripes of cement like adhesive that held it in place and it’s just come loose.


Does anyone have any idea what type of adhesive this is and where I can get it from?

Amazon UK URLs/links would be amazing!

Please see this photo I took of the tile. enter image description here

  • It's very clear that the tile was poorly installed. Well installed tile is almost impossible to remove w/o a hammer and chisel. Good news for you, easy fix! Jul 16, 2018 at 20:30

4 Answers 4


Looks like slate

It isn't. Slate, being a natural product, isn't a different color on the back than it is on the top. What you have there is a ceramic tile that is glazed and textured to look like slate. That's actually a good thing in this case because slate is fragile and often requires more care in order to get it set level.

What's the worst that can happen?

Well...I don't know how it works in the UK, but if you try to repair it and do a poor job, can the letting company come after you for your deposit? It might be more hassle later on than it is just to have the landlord get it fixed.

What is this adhesive called?

What you're looking at is called "thin-set mortar", and it is a cementitious adhesive that usually has to be mixed the way you'd mix concrete. The "stripes" are troweled into the thin-set using a notched trowel and the tile is set in place. It's not "adhesive" in the sense that it comes in a caulk tube and you can just squeeze it onto the back of the tile and glue it down.

  • I have just done that job myself ( 5 tiles) . The hardest part is getting the old "mortar" off the floor , I used a cold chisel with a wide blade. It makes some dust but nothing like the mess you get with any kind of a grinding removal.I went outside to grind the old mortar off the tiles. Jul 16, 2018 at 20:36
  • Apologies, I’m not the best at home improvement so may of the phrases I have used are through lack of abetter terminology and understanding of what they are. I hope you understand. Thank you for your answer.
    – UIO
    Jul 17, 2018 at 7:29
  • @OwenHughes if you tell us what terms need explaining we'll happily answer - also google is your friend here :) Jul 17, 2018 at 11:51
  • @OwenHughes That's okay! We're all here to learn. Nobody's born knowing how to tell ceramic from stone, or what thin-set is. I just wanted to address those things for your own knowledge - there's no judgment for not knowing what things are called - so you don't catch stares when you go to the hardware store.
    – Chris M.
    Jul 17, 2018 at 11:55

So let's learn a bit about ceramic tile here

How do you know this is ceramic tile?

Because of the white pattern on top of the pink-ish color. Real slate would have the same look on both sides.

What holds ceramic tile down?

Thin set mortar. It's a type of concrete and should be commonly found at any local supply store where they sell ceramic tile. If you're only going to replace this one tile, you could get away with buying some pre-mixed, since a full bag for one tile is overkill. You'll also need a mortar trowel with appropriate sized notches (consult the thin set you're buying, since the mix and tile determines how large a notch you need). Most likely you'll need a 0.25" x 0.25" notch (not sure how those are sold in the UK)

Just chisel out the thin set before you put more thin set down.

Why did this tile come up?

The answer is that someone did the bare minimum to lay the tile. In fact, I would say you could rip the rest of the tiles up with minimal effort and breakage. Look at the back of the tile you pulled up. Note how almost no thin set is on the tile. The thin set is the "glue" that holds the tile to the floor. Ceramic tile has that white diamond pattern on the back to increase the area of adhesion and you press it into the thin set after notching it with the trowel.

The problem with only troweling the floor is that sometimes the tile doesn't get enough on it to adhere properly Unfortunately, this is the minimum amount of work you need to lay tile, so quick contractors and newbie DIYers will only do that.

If you want the tile to stay down better, do something called "back buttering". Think of your tile as a piece of bread. Using the flat part of your trowel, scrape a thin layer of thin set onto the tile and then lay it into your notched thin set. You'll get far better adhesion and tiles coming up like this will be uncommon.


Adding to the previous answers, you must also find and apply matching grout along all four sides of the newly installed tile.


I would chip the thinset mortar off the wall carefully with a cold chisel. Then re-set the tile with mastic, a common tile adhesive available at most hardware stores. If you save the previous grout, and care to grind it to a medium grained powder, you can combine it with neutral colored grout to color match. I’ve done all of this before, as a firsttimer. It’s easy and cheap but take some time and a little imagination. You will need a small plastic trowel, a pint or so of tile mastic, a small cold chisel and a plastic or metal bucket,p. Good luck!

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